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Career-Life Times, Issue #30--Seven Tips for Excelling at Internal Interviews
September 17, 2006

Issue 30, Sept. 17, 2006

Ready to GET HIRED, GET NOTICED, and GET AHEAD? Read on...

In This Issue:

  • Seven Tips for Excelling at Internal Interviews
  • Eat and Get Hired
  • Homework Leads to Happiness!
  • Five Tips for Making the Most of a Long Commute
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Rants & Ramblings

    Seven Tips for Excelling at Internal Interviews

    Interviewing for a position with your current company? Here are seven tips for excelling at internal interviews.

    (1) Emphasize how your specific experience and extensive knowledge of the company will make you the ideal person for the job. But provide details; don't assume the interviewer knows all about your past accomplishments (even if he/she does, spell them out).

    (2) Use your "insider knowledge" to come up with answers to expected questions that will target what your company wants to hear. For example, if your company is always emphasizing the importance of customer service, be sure to talk specifically about how you've enhanced customer service in your current job.

    (3) Research the position for which you are applying, just as you would if it was at another company. Talk to people who work in that department; find out what they're currently working on, and their goals--then prepare to talk about how you can help to achieve those goals during the interview.

    (4) Be careful not to sound too casual or overly confident, especially if you and your interviewer know each other well. You may have a great advantage over external candidates, but don't assume that's all you'll need. "Sell" yourself just as you would if interviewing for a different company.

    (5) Don't assume you will know the interviewer(s). Companies often bring in people from other agencies to provide an unbiased interview panel. If this is the case, you'll have to be particularly careful about highlighting your experience and accomplishments without using company-specific jargon that an outsider might not understand.

    (6) In case the hiring supervisor is thinking about bringing in an external candidate because they feel a need for a fresh perspective and/or new ideas, be sure to work your creativity into your answers. Show that you can be innovative and inventive, and are full of "fresh" ideas yourself!

    (7) Internal candidates often overlook this step: ask for a letter of recommendation from your current boss or someone in a higher position. You may be pleasantly surprised about the supportiveness of your supervisor when it comes to helping you advance.

    Eat and Get Hired

    This is a guest article by Kevin Donlin. Info about him is at the end.

    Last Friday I met a former boss and co-worker for lunch. The three of us chatted over old times at a Thai restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. In between bites of spicy squid and gulps of iced tea, I realized we were covering valuable ground that could help almost anyone find a new job faster. So I wrote the following tips on a napkin after the meal. Read on to learn four ways you can turn lunch with an old co-worker into a new job offer...

    (1) Sharpen your employment goals. When you sit down to eat with a former colleague, the conversation will inevitably turn to work. Be ready to discuss your job search and the position you’re looking for. A side benefit of talking about something is that it forces you to think more clearly about it. So, the more you discuss your current career goals, the clearer they’ll become in your mind ... which helps you achieve them faster.

    Tip: Be sure to ask your former co-worker for feedback and advice. You will flatter him/her and get free guidance counseling at the same time ... while enjoying a bite to eat. Win-win-win.

    (2) Get referrals to other hiring managers. Of course, the ideal outcome of any lunch with an old workplace friend is a new job lead. Be ready for this--it happens all the time. Example: One of my resume writing clients, Kevin C., from St. Paul, Minnesota, struck paydirt during lunch with a former manager. Kevin says, “I called an old CEO of mine who I worked for 6 years back. After revisiting what I had done since we worked together, he gave me a list of 10 CEOs and their companies with whom he had customer/vendor relationships. I hit on about the 7th one and was asked to come in for a lunch meeting and interview. After interviewing 3 more times, I was invited to join the team. My new salary represents an increase of 32.5%! I love my new job and make more money than before.” It’s good to love your new job and get paid more, right?

    (3) Practice and polish your pitch. Here’s another benefit of lunch with an old boss or co-worker: You can ask them for feedback on your networking pitch. Your pitch is your 15-20 second “commercial” you use to tell others what kind of job you’re looking for and why employers should call you. Example: “I’m looking for a position as a customer service manager for a company that wants to add $220,000 in revenue from existing accounts, as I did last year. Who do you know that I should be talking to?”

    (4) Lightning can strike. It’s one thing to get a job lead during lunch with former colleagues. It’s quite another to get hired back again. But if you left your old boss on good terms, he or she just might ask you to come back. To illustrate, here’s another example from my client files. When Eric H., a design engineer from Ohio, came to me for a new resume, I suggested he contact his prior managers to ask for letters of recommendation, since those are valuable documents to bring to a job interview. Four days later, he sent me this email message: “Thanks to you making me call old employers for recommendations, one of them just offered me a great job!” It turns out that an old boss was looking for someone with Eric’s skills. Since Eric had done good work before--and would have no trouble fitting into the corporate culture--he was offered the new position, right over the phone. It could just as easily been over lunch.

    Now, go treat an old boss to lunch, and make your own luck!

    Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others. For more information, click here:

    Homework Leads to Happiness!

    I'd like to thank Scott S. for sending me the following email.

    Scott was faced with a situation that many workers are experiencing these days--his position was eliminated. To make matters worse, he'd been with his company for 27 years! So he had three strikes against him:

    (1) he'd lost his job;

    (2) he hadn't gone on an interview in nearly three decades;

    (3) his experience, qualifications and age gave him the dreaded stigma of being "overqualified."

    Scott had first sent me a one-sentence email saying, "Thanks Bonnie - I landed the 1st job that I interviewed for!"

    I replied and asked if he'd like to share the details. Here's how Scott turned a difficult situation into a wonderful new opportunity. Be sure to read his P.S.!

    "Well, after my job was eliminated following 27 years of faithful service with the same employer (in the Telecommunications industry), I began to explore opportunities in the same field. I searched the Career Postings in a similar but competing company, and found a job listed that I had all of the qualifications for, and more. This was where your package came in handy.

    "I completed their on-line application form and was contacted the next day by telephone. The call turned into a telephone interview that went very smoothly because I felt confident after studying your material. By the way, this was the first resume and interview in 27 years for me (scary)!

    "The 'overqualified' comment surfaced during our conversation, but I handled it with a cool and confident answer (that I had prepared ahead of time). I must have given him the right answers because at the end of our conversation he invited me to a face-to-face meeting a week later. That turned into a 2-1/2 hour, very detailed interview (interrogation) that again went very smoothly. The interviewer (now my new boss) commented on how comfortable he was with me through the entire process, and invited me back a week later to meet with him and HIS boss. Again, that meeting went smoothly. It almost felt like 3 guys chatting over a cold beer on a warm day--no tension at all. His boss ALSO brought up the 'overqualified' issue, but I handled it with much confidence and enthusiasm. I turned his fear around and showed my qualifications in a positive light rather than a negative one, and made him feel comfortable with selecting me from the other 3 candidates he was interviewing. "Two days later I received a call from their H.R. department with a great offer that I accepted.

    "The process was smooth beginning to end because, in my opinion, I felt confident in my qualifications AND my ability to interview professionally--because I had done my homework!

    "Thanks Bonnie!!!

    "P.S. I almost forgot the most important part: to squelch any possible opposition from others about my being overqualified, they up'ed the position from Engineer to Manager, Advanced Technology and increased the $$ being offered. Now my 'overqualifications' fit the job--problem solved!"

    Despite being "overqualified," Scott not only got the job, he managed to turn that job into an even better position than he'd interviewed for, with a higher salary!

    How? He said it... by doing his homework! I cannot stress that enough. The candidate is who prepared has a much better chance of getting the job--even when the cards are stacked against him/her.

    I talk about the "overqualified" challenge in a previous article you can find on my site: "How to Overcome Being Overqualified."

    The "package" Scott referred to is my Job Interview Success System.

    Five Tips for Making the Most of a Long Commute

    Do you spend 30 minutes or more commuting to/from work? One-third of Americans do, and I'm among them. It takes me 45-60 minutes each way, to drive to and from work. That can add up to 4 hours or more each week spent in my car. But it's not a waste of time. I make the most of it, and you can to. Here are five tips on how to benefit from your long commute.

    1. Turn your car into a self-improvement center. What new or improved skills might enhance your career or life? Whether you want to become a marketing expert, master a new language, learn how to speak in public--or anything else--there's probably an audio book on that topic. You don't even have to buy them; most libraries offer a nice selection of audio books these days. Listen and learn as you drive.

    2. Capture your creativity. Have you ever struggled at work to come up with an idea or solution? Sometimes it's hard to think things through, especially if you have a stressful job and are handling several tasks at the same time. I often stare at my computer screen trying to force an idea to materialize in my mind for an article I need to write, but with all the distractions at work, my screen and my mind sometimes remain blank! But as soon as I walk out the door, get into my car, put that article or task out of my mind and enjoy some music on the stereo--wham! The solution pops into my head! Studies show that when you take your mind off a problem, the stress disappears, your creativity kicks in, and the solution comes to you when you least expect it. But if this happens when you're driving, you need a convenient (and safe) way to capture that solution. The easiest way to do this is to keep a small audio recorder with you at all times. When an idea pops into your head, record it! Then listen to your recorded ideas when you return to work.

    3. Change your mood. If you've had a particularly difficult time at work, you'll probably be upset and frustrated at the end of the day. Instead of replaying the day's negative events in your mind as you drive home, force yourself to do the opposite. Don't think about work. Put on some music, or an audio book--something funny, perhaps--and leave the frustrations of your job behind as you head home. Use your long commute as your "destressing" time, and by the time you get home and greet your family, your mood will be much brighter!

    4. Improve your health. Relax. Don't get impatient when you get stuck in traffic. If you get upset, your blood pressure will rise. Do these two things as you drive: sing and breathe! Singing and deep breathing can release physical tension, reduce blood pressure, oxygenate the blood and boost your immune system. Sing along with a favorite song. When the song ends, take a deep breath, inhaling slowly. Hold the air in your lungs for a count of 10, then slowly exhale. Repeat this 5 or 6 times, then sing another song. Perform this sequence several times during your commute, and your body will benefit!

    5. Enhance your reputation. The 4 tips above assume you drive alone. What if you carpool? Enhance your reputation by adding value to the conversations of your fellow passengers. If someone mentions a problem, offer a solution. But do not get caught up in office gossip! It may seem OK at the time you're riding in the car to join in if everyone else is talking trash about a new boss, but don't do it. Never say anything negative about anyone. Many of us remember our mother's wise advice: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Heed that advice. Be the person who is always positive, upbeat, and helpful. One of those carpoolers may some day be your boss, or have your boss's ear... or may be in trouble and want to share blame! Carefully think about what you say during a long commute, and how it might help--or hinder--your reputation and career!


    More Articles. If you haven't visited my website's article directory in a while, you might want to check it out. Take a look at the index by clicking on: Articles.

    More than 19,000 free books. Thousands of books (including popular classics and even audio books) are available for download free of charge from the amazing Project Gutenberg. Check it out here:

    Like to Shop and Eat? How about doing those things without paying? Be a Mystery Shopper! Check it out: Join now, it's free!

    Job Interview Success System. I put together a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow, step-by-step system to help you ace your next job interview. It's helped hundreds of job seekers, and it can help you...guaranteed. For more info, go to Job Interview Success System.

    Something Spooky! OK, this isn't really a "resource," but it's a fun site you might find interesting...maybe even spooky! Can you figure out how this web page can read your mind? Number Game.

    Railroad Job Guide. Tired of working in a cublicle? Well, here's some good news: railroad employment opportunities are at an all-time high. But, as with any great job featuring excellent pay and benefits, the competition is fierce. You need an edge, and the "Railroad Job Guide" ebook gives it to you. Click here for more information:

    Worth Quoting

    "The most practical, beautiful, workable
    philosophy in the world won't work--
    if you won't."
    (Zig Ziglar)

    Just for Laughs

    In the men's room at work, the boss had placed a sign directly above the sink. It had a single word on it -- "Think!"

    The next day, when he went to the men's room, he looked at the sign and right below, immediately above the soap dispenser, someone had carefully lettered another sign which read -- "Thoap!"

    Random Rants & Ramblings

    Movie Lesson. I watched a movie recently called "The World's Fastest Indian." The Indian in this case is a type of motorcycle. I knew this, and because my husband likes racing and motorcycles (I don't care for either), I rented the movie for him. What I didn't know is that the movie is not about motorcycle racing. Yes, the main character has a motorcycle that he wants to prove is the fastest ever, but that's just a tiny part of this amazing movie. Here's what it's really about: a man following his dream, never quitting, never giving up despite unbelievable obstacles. And while he's following his dream, he brings joy to people he interacts with along the way. It's a very uplifting story, with valuable lessons. And it's a true story. I highly recommend it. (And yes, my husband liked it, too, even though it wasn't about motorcycle racing!)

    I hate politics. It's an election year and political ads are popping up everywhere. Never trust a political ad--even the ones from your political party. They don't tell you the whole story and are obviously biased. If you vote, please do not base your decisions on the advertisements--do your homework! But that's not the point of this rant... the "politics" I really hate are at the office. You know what I mean... when managers make decisions based on pleasing their boss or the Board of Directors, instead of what's right for the organization. I understand this is often a necessary survival tactic, and in that same vein, we must all play the politics game from time to time if we want to keep our jobs. But we don't have to like it. We just smile and pretend we do. Isn't that what politics is all about?

    So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at

    Please forward this to your friends!


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